Tag Archives: Arjuna

Have you forever lost the friend of your very soul?

35-36

The Original Person reclines upon the ocean of the Yadu family with the original Ananta, for the benefit, protection and evolution of all the worlds. The Yadava are fit to live in his own city, protected by the scepters of his arms, and relishing pastimes of paramount bliss.

In these two verses the King very finely crafts a poetic metaphor. He compares Kṛṣṇa to Mahā-Viṣṇu, the Original Person who reclines upon the ocean of causality with a multi-headed dragon who is a form of his own unlimited energy (“ananta”), and from whom the worlds evolve and are preserved. The persons who live with this Mahā-Puruṣa (Viṣṇu) are exalted (Mahā-Pauruṣa), and by association they enjoy Viṣṇu’s own topmost spiritual bliss. The King says that the Yadu family is the ocean upon which Kṛṣṇa reclines as Viṣṇu and Bālarāma reclines as Ananta. Dvārakā is the world that evolves from this “Viṣṇu.” The people in Dvārakā Mahā-Pauruṣa who enjoy the topmost spiritual bliss.

37

Very attentively caring for his feet is the prime duty
Of the twice eight-thousand women headed by Satyabhāmā.
Undefeated when counted against the thrice-ten, claiming their treasures
And enjoying what belongs to the wives of the thunderbolt’s master.

Here, Yudhiṣṭhira breaks into more elaborate poetry to give an example to illustrate his previous statement that the people related to Kṛṣṇa are enjoying tremendously under his protection and blessings. There are roughly 16 thousand queens of Kṛṣṇa. There are roughly 30 important gods. Satyabhāmā is the queen who induced Kṛṣṇa to fight with the gods and take away a special tree with celestial flowers for her.

This continues the metaphor from the previous verses by stating that Kṛṣṇa’s 16 thousands queens are analogous to Lakṣmī, who always massages Viṣṇu’s legs and feet.

38

Always living under the protection of his scepter-arms,
The Yadava have become great heroes, ever fearless in every way.
So they strode in on foot and took by force
The Sudharmā assembly house, which belongs to the very best gods.

Yudhiṣṭhira continues to give examples of how those related to Kṛṣṇa enjoy life more fully than even the gods. Fearless and powerful due to the blessings and protection of Kṛṣṇa, the Yadus simply strode into heaven and took away Indra’s assembly hall by force. They brought it to Dvārakā for Kṛṣṇa to use and enjoy daily.

39-43

Dear brother, is your health OK? You look very pale and weak. Have you been disrespected and neglected during this long time you have been gone? Could someone have addressed you so carelessly and foully? Have they said they you did not give to a beggar, or did not fulfill a promise? Or that you did not give shelter to intellectuals, children, cows, the elderly, the sick, or women who came to you seeking it? Did you embrace one not fit to embrace, or did you mistreat a woman? Or maybe you were defeated by a person who was not your superior or peer? Or could it be that you dined alone, without also feeding the old and young? Have you done something horrible and unforgivable?

These are the basic moral principles by which an ancient prince of India lived. They valued respect and reputation and this was gained by being a good person and following codes like

  • always giving charity,
  • always fulfilling promises,
  • always taking care of anyone who needs caring for,
  • following principles regarding interaction with the opposite sex
  • never mistreating a woman
  • being undefeated by anyone junior
  • never eating before feeding others

Yudhiṣṭhira is giving one last hope towards there being some tolerable reason for Arjuna’s abject dejection. But Arjuna does not reply to any of these hopes. He merely cries more forcefully as tears pool on the ground beneath his lowered face.

44

“Alas! I have become a void, having forever lost the most beloved, heart-to-heart friend of my very soul.” Besides this thought, what else could be so troubling you?


Is Krishna Gone?

– 22 –

When the king was thus worryfully pondering the evil omens he saw, the monkey-flag came back from the city of Yadus.

The flag atop Arjuna’s chariot bears the mark of a monkey.

23

He came to bow at the king’s feet in unprecedented dejection. His lotus-eyes made drops of water fall from his downward-bent face.

24

Seeing his brother’s troubled heart and paleness, the king began to question him then and there, in the middle of everyone; unable to get the words of Nārada out of his mind.

Nārada previously indicated that Kṛṣṇa’s associates would now be departing from the earth, following their master. After hearing this, the King saw so many inauspicious omens. Now, Arjuna returns after extreme delay from a visit to Kṛṣṇa with tears streaming down his pale face. In the face of all this horrific evidence, the king was unable to be patient and wait for a good time and place; he immediately began questioning Arjuna in great worry.

25

Yudhiṣṭhira said:

Are our relatives in Ānarta’s capitol city – the Madhu, Bhaja, Daśārha, Ārha, Sātvata, Andhaka and Vṛṣṇi clans – passing time happily?

Arjuna does not look up or answer.

26-27

Is our maternal grandfather Śūra and his wife Māriṣa passing time auspiciously?

How is my maternal uncle Vasudeva (for whom the drums of heaven resounded)? What about our maternal aunts, the seven sisters who are his wives? Personally headed by Devakī, are they living happily among their children and daughters-in-law?

Arjuna can give no reply. So Yudhiṣṭhira continues to become more specific in his inquiries.

28-29

Does king Āhuka still live with his children, among whom one was worthless?

What of Hṛdīka and his son?

What of Akrūra, Jayanta, Gada, Sāraṇa – are they living happily, headed by Śatrujit?

Does Rāma pass the time happily, being the All-Attractive protector of the saintly Sātvata dynasty?

Āhuka is Ugrasena, whose “son” was wicked Kaṁsa. Kaṁsa’s true father was a demon who violated Ugrasena’s wife. Thus there was no question of Āhuka being “happy.” Yudhiṣṭhira merely asks if he is still living. Hṛdīka was the grandfather of Kṛṣṇa’s father, Vasudeva. The list of persons headed by Śatrujit are very close associates of Kṛṣṇa who help significantly in administering and protecting the city. Rāma refers to Bālarāma, Kṛṣṇa’s elder brother.

30-31

Is Pradyumna living happily as the General of the Vṛṣṇi armies?

All-Attractive Aniruddha, profoundly dexterous, must be prospering!? So too must be all the great sons and grandsons of Kṛṣṇa like Suṣeṇa, Cārudeṣṇa, Sāmba, Jāmbavatī’s son, Ṛṣabha and so on…

Constantly receiving no answer, verbal or otherwise, from Arjuna, the king becomes ever more worried and escalates his questions closer and closer to the heart of the matter, dreading to ask directly about Kṛṣṇa. Here he asks about the foremost of Kṛṣṇa’s children.

32-33

And what of Kṛṣṇa’s constant companions: Śrutadeva, Uddhava and so on; and what of Sunanda and Nanda, the best among leaders of the Sātvata family???

Aren’t they all well, being sheltered by the strength of Rāma and Kṛṣṇa? Do they ever remember us kindly, their affectionate relatives?

Still, Arjuna neither raises his eyes nor answers. Tears only stream down his pale cheeks all the more profusely with each question.

34

Certainly All-Attractive Govinda, who is so affectionate to devotees and thinkers, must be enjoying the city’s assembly hall, surrounded by well-wishers!?

Finally Yudhiṣṭhira must place the question directly, with great fear and unwillingness to accept the possibility of an awful negative reply.


A Mountain of Gold Hidden in the Himalayas

1.12.32

The king wanted to perform a horse sacrifice to diminish the effects of fighting with his family, but he realized that the treasury consisted of nothing but taxes and fines.

We’ve already heard about King Yudhiṣṭhira’s horse sacrifices, so it would be good to clarify the story line at this point. We are currently in the twelfth chapter of the first division of Śrīmad Bhāgavatam. In the seventh chapter, Sūta began to answer the questions he was asked about Parīkṣit, the person to whom Śrīmad Bhāgavatam was originally spoken. The main thing he communicates about Parīkṣit is that Viṣṇu personally rescued him from the radiation of a deadly weapon, while he was still in his mother’s womb. Chapter seven and most of chapter eight are the backstory explaining why this weapon was cast, even after the war itself was finished (it’s the same war described in detail in Mahābhārata). Sūta describes the actual rescue at the end of chapter eight. But in telling this story in which the main subject of Śrīmad Bhāgavatam, Kṛṣṇa, plays a central role Sūta became excited and eager. So he continued narrating the tale even after his original purpose for bringing it up had been fulfilled. This goes on through chapters nine, ten, and eleven; wherein Sūta describes Bhīṣma’s deep relationship to Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa’s journey home to Dvārakā, and the welcome he received there.

At the beginning of chapter twelve, Śaunaka takes advantage of a natural pause in the story to remind Sūta of his original intention: to answer their questions about Parīkṣit. Sūta returns to the story line in this chapter, and reconnects his new narrative to the old by referencing topics previously mentioned. That is why we again hear about the horse sacrifices of King Yudhiṣṭhira.

33

Seeing this desire, his brothers approached the Infallible who told them how to find and procure an abundance of wealth from the north.

Long ago, Śiva gave a literal mountain of gold to an ancient king, Marutta. Eventually the path to the mountain was lost and the treasure within became inaccessible. But Infallible Kṛṣṇa told the Pāṇḍavas exactly how to find it and get an abundance of wealth for the sacrifice.

34

With it, the son of Dharma procured enough ingredients to perform the sacrifice three times, being fearful. Hari was pleased.

Fearful of the ill fate created by the war between family members, Yudhiṣṭhira performed the purificatory sacrifice not once, but three times.

35

The All-Attractive attended the sacrifice performed by twice-born for the king. Out of affection for his beloved devotees, he lived with them for a few months.

Regarding the term “twice-born:” The first birth is determined by fate. The second is determined by freewill. Only evolved persons utilize their freewill to take a symbolic second birth to establish an identity dedicated to higher pursuits. Such persons are qualified to perform mystical ceremonies.

36

Then, O spiritualists, the king allowed Kṛṣṇa to leave for Dvārakā, surrounded by Arjuna and his other friends and relatives.


The Astrology of Emperor Pariksit

12

When the planets became favorable for all good fortune, they produced the heir of the dynasty – as powerful as Pāṇdu.

13

Out of affection, the king had the most learned scholars, headed by Dhaumya & Kṛpa, read the auspicious astrological nativity of this newborn.

Learned souls know how to foretell the future in various ways, chiefly by astrology. What we are about the hear is a collection of learned astrologers headed by Dhaumya and Kṛpa informing the king of the future of his newborn grand-nephew.

14

Knowing what should be done on the birth of a child, the King gave gifts of the highest quality gold, cows, land, villages, elephants and horses. He sumptuously fed the intellectuals.

Intellectuals are most important in society, but they do not earn much money. Thus it is a very important social custom to feed them and give them gifts on every occasion.

15-17

Very satisfied, those intellectuals spoke:

“This spotless child will certainly be the foremost in the family of Puru. Unstoppable destiny intended to destroy him, but the all-powerful and all-pervading Viṣṇu, rescued him – because of his affection for you. Thus the boy will be famous throughout the world by the name Viṣṇu Rāta (Viṣṇu-Rescued). Undoubtedly he is a great soul, extremely blessed, the pinnacle of divine love.”

The intellectuals described Parīkṣit as mahān, mahā-bhāga, and mahā-bhāgavata – a great soul, greatly blessed, and the greatest devotee.

18

The blessed King asked:

Oh best of truthful souls, will this boy have glory and fame following the footsteps of his forbearers: great souls famous as pious philosopher-kings?

19-26

The intellectuals replied:

O Pārtha,
In maintaining the citizens he will be exactly like Ikṣvaku, Manu’s son.
In truthfulness and obedience to teachers he will be exactly like Rāma, Dāśaratha’s son.
In giving charity and giving shelter he will be like Śibi of Uśīnara.
In expanding the renown of his kin by performing sacrifices he will be like Duṣyanta’s son.
In bowmanship he will equal the Arjunas.

He will be unstoppable as an inferno, insurmountable as an ocean.
He will be powerful as a lion, unwavering as the Himalaya,
He will be forbearing as the earth, as patient as parents.
In being merciful and generous he will be like grandparents.

In giving shelter to all living beings he will be like Śiva
and the god who is the shelter of the goddess of fortune [Viṣṇu].
In having all glorious spiritual qualities he will be like Kṛṣṇa,
to whom he is devoted.
In altruism he will be like Rantideva.
In following rules he will be like Yayāti.
In patience he will be like Bali.
In saintly devotion he will be like Prahlāda.

He will conduct many horse sacrifices.
He will be a follower of the experienced.
He will father many philosopher-kings.
For the sake of world peace
he will curb the insubordinate and extinguish the cantankerous.

Ikṣvaku, the son of the personality from whom the Human race descends, was the first king to prohibit meat eating.

Śibi was so charitable and protective that he wanted to give away to others his own right to enter heaven, and was ready to give his own life to protect a bird.

Duṣyanta’s son is Bhārata, after whom the great Mahābhārata is named.

The other Arjuna besides the Pāṇḍava is Kārttavīrya-Arjuna: a powerful thousand-armed warrior who was the impetus for Parśurāma killing 21 generations of warriors.

Rantideva is famous as the most magnanimous king who was virtually obsessed with giving everything he had to others.

Yayāti, like Rantideva is a famous and very ancient king. He performed thousands of different Vedic sacrifices.

Bali is an exemplar of patience because he kept his cool resolve to fulfill his promise to Viṣṇu, even when his guru was warning him not to. His grandfather was the famous Prahlāda, son of Hiraṇyakaśipu.

As far as horse sacrifices, even a cursory study of Vedic culture will show that they did not conceive of animal rights with the same sensitivities as we have today. This is not to insinuate that they had any less concern for the well-being of all living entities, just that they implemented this concern in a different manner than would make sense to a modern activist.

27-28

His own death will come from the dragon Takṣa, as a result of a curse from the child of a twice-born. When he hears of this he will cast off all attachments, take full shelter in Hari, and inquire about the true goal of the soul from the learned son of Vyāsa. He will then leave his body beside the Ganges and go directly to the abode of fearlessness.

Most of the astrological reading given by the intellectuals, in texts 19-26, pertained to the newborn king’s character, but here they make an extremely concrete prediction regarding the boy’s death. They did not hesitate to pronounce the nature of the newborn’s death. Perhaps because the family was so elevated and did not consider death an unnatural and awful thing, like most of us do.

29

Thus those learned experts of natal astrology advised the king. Wondrously paid, they returned to their own homes.

30

The boy would become famous as “The Examiner” (Parīkṣit) because he examined everyone he saw, in search of that person he saw before, whom he constantly contemplated.

The “person he saw before” refers to the person he saw before his birth, Viṣṇu.

31

The prince grew quickly and luxuriantly like the waxing moon day after day, under the care of his many parents.


Philosophy in the City – Part 3

24

This man, O friend, is certainly the most fitting topic for song,
The most intimate object known by the most intimate knowers.
He alone is the master of everything,
As his own play he creates, maintains and destroys it without attachment.

Another girl turns to a friend close by her side, tugs gently upon her arm and says, “Dear friend, that man is the real topic for love songs! Such songs are real spiritual discussion.”

“Ah,” answers her friend, “but who will write such songs?  The world is full instead of worthless hymns, mantras, poems, and lyrics.”

The girl answers quickly and confidently, “We will! And we will inspire others too! We are guhya-vādī – the most intimate philosophers. We alone know the Veda’s most intimate secret (vedeṣu guhyeṣu). That is why our gossip and chatter is better than any sermon, it is sat-katha! Those who listen to the lyrics we now weave will later expand them into new song!”

At this point, an older woman who was sitting a bit apart with folded arms finally expressed her growing dissatisfaction and suspicion of these young ladies, “Oh please,” she blurted out. “You are just ridiculously in love with that charismatic heartbreaker, that’s all. You are just lusty, pritter-prattering young urban girls. Why on earth are you insulting priests, scholars and real spiritualists by pretending to be some deep and mysterious philosophers and transcendentalists!?”

“Oh be quiet, you old crow!” Shout the young ladies in unison. “If you had half an ear you would already know the answer to your own question, for we have already explained all that. He is no ordinary charmer! He alone is the true master of everything in the universe! You people speak of gods of universal creation, maintenance and annihilation – but the truth is that all such things take place effortlessly as a result of his playful will!”

“Playful!?”  The old woman attempts to retort. “What could possibly be ‘playful’ about universal creation and destruction!?!?”

With a long sigh and quiet laugh, the girls said, “You really are thick-headed, grandma. Everything exists merely for the sake of joy, for play. All the sufferings and disasters in this world are our own doing, as a result of protest against our inherent nature to facilitate his play. Yes, we say this entire universe is nothing but play.”

Seeing the persistent sour look on the old woman’s face start to barely give way to curiosity, they invited her, “Unfold your arms, and come over here with us. Get a good clear view of our handsome Master. We think your dry old breasts will again perk up when you see him with your own eyes! And when your bosom blossoms with love for him you too will clearly see all these confidential secrets of reality kept hidden from those with eyes blinded by turning away from the sunlight of Godhead towards the darkness of ego.”

Opening their arms and waving her over, the encouraged, “Come dear woman, come…”

25

When immoral and dark-hearted kings thrive
Then, with his absolute goodness he manifests
Opulence, reality, truthfulness, compassion and fame
In many forms, aeon after aeon.

Now the old, reluctant woman has joined the young ladies and looks down upon Śrī Kṛṣṇa seated upon a fabulous chariot slowly rolling into the road in front of the palace. The young ladies help the old woman appreciate him by recounting a well-known philosophical principle of the time.

“You see that handsome man?” They gently ask her. “He is the one that scriptures say appears aeon after aeon in so many different forms for the sake of counteracting immorality and dark-heartedness by broadcasting his beautiful opulence, reality, truthfulness, compassion.”

26

Aho! How very praiseworthy is the Yadu family!
Aho! How very praiseworthy is the Sweet Forest!
The greatest person of all, the husband of the Goddess of Fortune,
Was born from them, and walked amongst them!

Now all the women, young and old, overcome with the ecstasy and deepest profound visions of divine love exclaim Kṛṣṇa’s glories in one voice: This man who walks among us is actually that All-Attractive godhead who sets the world aright age after age. How fortunate and lucky are we, therefore!

We often have “God” rammed down our throats, “now get down on your knees and fear his wrath, and be in awe of his power.” So, we are prone to misunderstand Kṛṣṇa as a self-centered being, imparting on him the imperfections of greed and hunger ingrained within our own mentalities. In fact Kṛṣṇa is a being of purely selfless love who purposefully invests other persons, places and things with the power to lift him to his highest heights. Thus the husband of the Goddess of Fortune decides to be born amongst simple cowherd people in the sweet forest of Madhu-vana, and be loved, raised, and even protected by them.

 


Philosophy in the City – Part 2

1.10.23

This man is certainly very virile!
He impregnates nature with his own power of life, empowering her to create offspring.
Entrusting her to award names and forms to the nameless, formless souls;
And creating the rules by which to do so.

The ladies continue their enthusiastic chatter about Kṛṣṇa as his chariot pulls into the road to leave the city. They cling to these words about him, as if by holding them they can keep Kṛṣṇa from leaving their vision.

“To say that he is ‘sexy’ is the universes most preposterous understatement,” declares a beautiful young lady excitedly. “Do you know how virile he really is???”

“Yes, we know!” exclaims another. “His seed is the original seed! He impregnates Mother Nature herself! And thus gives her the power to develop so many millions of children in her womb, again and again throughout history.”

Then the lady who spoke the previous verse turned quickly towards the others with a flourish, “His seed is none other than the quantum of life itself! In that energy are infinite individual proto-souls, as mere potential consciousness – without definite shape or identity. By placing them into the care of his wife’s womb, he entrusts her to bestow appropriate names and forms to them, according to the design he sets forth.

“And, good women,” she continues loudly, “this is true for both the conditioned as well as the liberated souls. The only difference between the two is which of his wives he impregnates! He impregnates the wife named Mahā-Prakṛti, or Mahā-Māyā, to give names and forms to the souls who desire a venue for imitating his own exploits. But he impregnates another, dearer wife named Daivi-Prakṛti, or Yoga-Māyā to give names and forms to those souls who desire to partake directly in his spiritual pastimes of joy.”

23

This very same man is he for whom the gods and the godly
Struggle to conquer their senses and control their lifestyles,
In the effort to purify themselves, so that their hearts may give rise to divine love
By which they can see him.

There really is no other point to self-purification!

“Do you see that man?” Asks another woman, pointing towards Kṛṣṇa with a timid hand trembling out of excitement. “We see him before us with our very eyes! Do you know how much trouble the gods themselves go through to be able to see him!? They work so hard to control the selfish desires in the heart which obscure pure devotion, because they know that pure love is the only eye that can behold the limitless beauty of the All-Attractive.”

He voice faded into a whisper and then fell silent. The women stood motionless for a few moments. Then, with a very deep sign, someone concluded, “Really, besides seeing that man, nothing else in the world is worth striving for.”


Gossiping Women Are Far Better Than Hymn Chanting Priests

1.10.1

Saunaka asked:

 

Having eliminated the aggressors who tried to usurp what was rightfully his, how did Yudhisthira and his brothers, the greatest upholders of morality, enjoy or restrict themselves?

2

Suta answered:

 

The Kuru dynasty was thinned like a fire-stricken bamboo forest, but its good seedlings were protected by Hari. The Controller’s mind became pleased by reestablishing Yudhisthira in to his rightful throne.

3

Having heard the words of Bhisma and the Infallible, he was cleansed of all confusions and took up his duties with deep wisdom. He ruled the globe and even its oceans like Indra protected by Visnu; and his brothers assisted him.

 

4

The rains poured as much as desired. The earth produced everything desired. The leaking udders of the happy cows moistened the pastures.

5

Rivers, oceans, hills, vegetables, flowers, fruits and herbs certainly fulfilled everyone’s desires.

 6

There was no distress or disease nor any sufferings from the gods, creatures, or self. No one ever became inimical towards the king.

 

7

Hari stayed in Hastinapura for a few months, too. To console and please his relatives and beloved sister.

Krsna’s sister, Subhadra, was Arjuna’s wife, so she stayed in Hastinapura.

8

With his permission, embrace, and respect he ascended his chariot being embraced and respected by so many.

After a few months, Krsna again asked Yudhisthira’s permission to return to home.

9-10

Subhadra, Draupadi, Kunti, Virata’s daughter, Gandhari, Dhrtarastra, Yuyutsu, Gautama, the Twins, Wolf-Belly, Dhaumya, the royal ladies like the Fisherman’s Daughter, could not tolerate the loss of the Bow-Weilder, and almost fainted.

 

Subhadra is Krsna’s sister and Arjuna’s wife. Draupadi is the wife of all five Pandavas. Kunti is the mother of the Pandavas. Virata’s daughter is Uttara,, the wife of Arjuna’s son and the mother of Pariksit. Gandhari and Dhritarastra are the mother and father of the children who tried to usurp Yuddhisthira, Yuyutsu is Dhritarastras child from a different wife. Gautama is the family guru. The Twins are the Pandavas Nakula and Sahadeva. Dhaumya is a sage. The Fisherman’s Daughter is the stepmother of Bhisma and grandmother of the Pandavas. The Bow-Wilder is Krsna addressed with reference to his being identical to Visnu, who weilds the unique bow called Sarnga.

11-12

Appreciating what is real and casting off what is unreal, an intelligent person could never attempt to give up the kirtan of his fame; which upon the first sound immediately delights. Arjuna had given his very consciousness to him. How could he tolerate losing him after personally touching, conversing, reclining, sitting, and eating together?

 

Those who can appreciate what is real and unreal cannot give up the pleasure of hearing about Krsna’s name and fame. So just imagine the pain Arjuna felt in having to give up Krsna’s personal intimate company.

13

All of them could not even blink as they stared at him with hearts melted, moving aimlessly here and there like puppets on the strings of love.

14

All the palace women tried to stop their flood of tears, out of a great fear that it would be an omen of ill-fortune at the moment of Devaki’s son stepping out from the palace.

 

15

Then, mrdanga drums, conch shells; trumpets, flutes and bugles; kettledrums, bells and more sounded rhythmically.

 

16

The Kuru princesses went up to the roof of the palace to see Krsna. They lovingly showered flowers upon him, while casting flirtatious glances.

 

17

The beloved Sleepless Arjuna took up for his Supreme Beloved a cooling umbrella decorated with lace and pearl, and a bejeweled handle.

 

18

Uddhava and Satyaki fanned with the most wondrous fans the Master of Sweetness, who sat amongst the strewn flowers and gave the command to take to the road.

 

When Krsna left the palace a wonderful concert resounded. The ladies on the rooftops and terraces held back their tears for his sake and instead sent him delightfully flirtatious glances and showers of flowers. Arjuna took the kingdoms finest umbrella and held it above his dearmost friend as they walked from the gate to the chariot, while the driver Satyaki and his constant attendant Uddhava fanned him with wondrously opulent fans. When he arrived at his chariot it was covered in flowers, so he took his seat amongst the glorious spontaneous decorations and gave the order for Satyaki to drive the chariot onto the road.

19

Here and there you could hear spiritual benedictions pronounced by the priests. It was befitting but not really befitting for the Formless in Form.

 

The scholars miss the point out of too much affection for scholarship. However it is their nature and therefore not entirely unbefitting. Still their offering of mundane benedictions to the Supreme Personality seemed a bit out of place.

In music a dissonant note well placed increases the beauty of the melody. This is the role filled by these priests at the departure of Krsna.

20

Far more enchanting and pleasing than all their mantras was the gossip going on between all the women of the city; who had their hearts wrapped around the Subject of Topmost Poetry.

 

The only need for comment here is to note that there is absolutely no need to comment on the profundity of what Suta has just said in verses 19 and 20. The next group of verses will allow us to be a “fly-on-the-wall” and listen in on some samples of this divine chatter.


The Prayers of Grandfather Bhisma and his Passing into Vrindavana-Lila

1.9.32

Śrī Bhīṣma said:

Thus my contemplation has become thristless and dedicated
To the All-Attractive, foremost of the real, the all-powerful.
Everything that exists springs forth from his energies
Due to his full self-satisfaction and enjoyment.

Bhīṣma could completely dedicate all his perception and contemplation to the All-Attractive because he had lost all thirst for inferior subjects. Only the all-attractive, all-powerful, paramountly real Godhead could attract his attention.

Why do we exist? Why does anything exist? We exist as a result of expansion of the limitless enjoyment and pleasure inherent in the seed of reality – Godhead. Because Godhead is full of bliss, he desires to expand and multiply it, and therefore from his energies spring forth infinite varieties of creation. Thus the meaning of life is pleasure, and this pleasure is experienced fully when the soul is linked to Godhead.

33

Who the three worlds lust for, of dark-complexion,
Wearing cloth as brilliantly gold as the sun,
Body and lotus-like face decorated with sandalwood,
Vijaya’s friend… unto him let me have purest love!

Vijaya is Arjuna, the “Especially Victorious.”

34

In battle, the dust raised by horses made ashen
The wavy hair scattered around his perspiration-decorated face.
My sharp arrows pierced his dazzling armor to touch his skin.
Unto Kṛṣṇa let me give my soul!

35

As soon as he heard his friend’s command
He took their strong chariot between the two sides.
There, he diminished their lifespan of the opposing soldiers by glancing over them.
Unto Pārtha’s Friend let me give my love!

“Pārtha” is Arjuna, the child of Pṛthā.

36

When Arjuna saw from afar the soldier’s faces,
And turned away from killing his own people… an intellectual flaw,
He destroyed this flaw by spiritual knowledge!
To his feet let me give the most paramount love!

37-38

Breaking his own word to fulfill mine
He descended from his place on the chariot
And, with its wheel in his hand he ran, trampling the ground
like a lion killing an elephant, as his upper-cloth fell away.

Wounded by my fierce arrows, which destroyed his shield
Covered in wounds, he came towards his aggressor in anger
Intent on killing me!
May he, the Lotus-Faced Liberator become my destination!

I have translated mukunda as “Lotus-Faced Liberator.”

These beautiful poems composed spontaneously by Grandfather Bhīṣma in an unusual and highly sophisticated Sanskrit meter at the moment of his death reveal romantic Kṛṣṇa to us through the eyes of a heroic warrior.

39

Taking care of Vijaya’s chariot, holding the driving goad,
And the ropes… what a beautiful sight!
May the love of this dying man be for the All-Attractive.
Those who see him while dying attain their spiritual beauty.

“Spiritual beauty” (sva-rūpa) directly implies a spiritual body. The soul can be encased in a material body or a spiritual body. The material body engages in ego-centric affairs, the spiritual body engages in God-centric affairs. Bhīṣma desires to attain his original, beautiful spiritual form by dying with his vision and attention fully focused on the All-Attractive.

What spiritual form does Bhīṣma desire? He now expresses it clearly:

40

Graceful gait, artfully sweet smiles,
Love-laden glances… most glorified conceptions!
They imitate him, at the heights of madness
Yes, into their nature, the wives of the cowherders.

Bhīṣma now unequivocally states the spiritual beauty he desires to attain by dying with his heart and mind fully enrapt in Kṛṣṇa: He wishes to attain the nature of the wives of the cowherders: The Gopīs of Vṛṇdāvana. Specifically, he desires a place among the Gopīs experiencing the highest madness of spiritual love during the affairs immediately following Kṛṣṇa’s world-famous “rāsa-dance.”

41-42

In the great assembly of sages and great kings
Called by Yudhiṣṭhira’s royal sacrifice
All of them worshipped my Beloved
I saw it with my own eyes. I was there.

Now I have him right here!
He is the unborn, within the heart of the embodied,
In the contemplative hearts of the thinkers.
I see him everywhere; like the one Sun is seen everywhere.
I have now attained Samadhi, and am freed from the foolishness of separatism.

True Samadhi is not an impersonal accomplishment or state. Bhīṣma desires to become a Gopī, not a void impersonal energy. He now states that he is completely ready to die, because he has achieved Samadhi. What is Samadhi, then? It is a state of perception (dhi) in which there is perfect oneness (sama). What is oneness??? Those who have not seen it do not know and cannot say. But Bhīṣma has seen it and he says what it is: it is seeing the beloved Kṛṣṇa everywhere – just like we see the sun everywhere. There is only one sun, but it shines on everyone’s head. Similarly there is one Godhead, but Godhead can be seen in everything and everyone – without destroying or contradicting the fact that there is one Godhead. There is indeed one personal, beautiful All-Attractive Godhead. We attain Samadhi when we see him everywhere at all times. Bhīṣma gives confidence to his family and friends by telling them he has attained Samadhi and is therefore perfectly ready to take his final death, they should not fear, worry or grieve.

These were his final words.

43

Sūta said:                                                                                   

He placed himself within All-Attractive Kṛṣṇa, the self of his self, along with his every thought, word, vision, and deed. He took a final breath and was at peace.

44-45

Realizing that Bhīṣma had attained perfect oneness with the unlimited spirit, everyone fell silent like birds at the end of the day. Then, drums resounded, beaten by men and gods alike who praised the saint among kings. A rain of flowers fell from the sky.

46

Yudhiṣṭhira became very morose when the time came to burn the body, O Bhārgava.

47

The sages made everyone satisfied and happy by glorifying the confidential names and deeds of Kṛṣṇa. Then, with Kṛṣṇa in their hearts, they returned again to their own ashrams.

There was enormous nāma-saṁkīrtan at the funeral of Bhīṣma, conducted by the most illustrious sages and saints. This brought peace and happiness to everyone’s heart.

48

After this, Yudhiṣṭhira went to Gajāhvayam to console his uncle and the austere Gāndhārī.

Yudhiṣṭhira’s aunt is an “austere woman” (tapasvī) primarily because she kept her eyes blindfolded as an austerity of love for her blind husband. Gajāhvayam is the capital palace in Hastinapura (now Delhi). Were Yudhiṣṭhira any lesser man he would have hated his uncle and aunt for the central role they played in the incidents which culminated in the disastrous war. Being a very elevated soul, however, Yudhiṣṭhira easily overlooks the faults in others and embraces whatever good is in them.

49

With the approval of his uncle, and the subsequent pleasure of Vasudeva’s Son, he administered the kingdom with morality as great as his grandfather’s.

A good student of a good teacher becomes a good teacher. Yudhiṣṭhira was a good student, and his grandfather Bhīṣma give him good advice about how to be a king. By deeply and faithfully implementing his grandfather’s advice, Yudhiṣṭhira’s kingdom was as moral and good as if Bhīṣma himself was the king.

Those aware of the fuller story arc presented in Mahābhārata will note that this completes a diversion to the flow of fate which started when Bhīṣma renounced his claim to the throne.

Krishna attacks Bhisma like a lion attacking an elephant - to return the touch of Bhisma's arrows upon his skin

Bhisma's Spiritual Aspiration


Inescapable Fate & God’s Plan

1.9.12

Alas how you suffered! Alas how unfair! O children of morality, you wouldn’t have survived such trials were you not protected by the learned, by righteousness, and by the infallible.

13-17

When the great warrior Pāṇḍu died he left my daughter Pṛthā with children. Raising you she suffered again, terribly.

All the difficult things that happened to her and to you are fate, I conclude. Everyone in all the worlds, and even the protectors of those worlds, is in the grip of fate like a cloud bank is in the grip of the wind.

How else could such disaster befall a king who is the son of Dharma, alongside the mace wielding Wolf-Belly, and the mystic-bow wielding Kṛṣṇā with his dear protector Kṛṣṇa?

None can ever understand his plan. Confusion persists even if experts investigate it exhaustively. Therefore just take everything that happened as the hex of destiny.

Now you are the chief of the Bharata dynasty. So, Lord, you must protect the helpless citizens.

The Pāṇḍavas suffered quite unfairly and so did their mother, who first of all lost her husband at a very young age, and second of all had to watch them grow up into such an unfair environment. Bhīṣma says that Pṛthā (Kuntī) is his “daughter.” Bhīṣma never married, but in loving Indian families relations terms are extended beyond their literal definitions. Kuntī was the daughter in law of Bhīṣma’s brother. Out of affection he considers her his own daughter.

King Yudhiṣṭhira could not rise above the emotional distress that culminated in the horrible war which forced him to take the lives of so many friends, teachers, and family members, including his beloved grandfather Bhīṣma who now lay broken on the battlefield. Yudhiṣṭhira approached him for advice and Bhīṣma said, “You cannot make logical sense out of everything that happened. Everything happens as a result of fate, and we cannot figure out the logic of fate with our human intellect.”

We use freewill, and our accountability for what we do therewith generates what we experience as “fate.” The universe attempts to improve the character of her children by rewarding our good deeds and punishing our bad. So, in theory, fate is a simple concept. But in practice it quickly becomes complex, especially because often good things seem fated to bad people, and visa versa. The simple reason for this is that fate spans many lifetimes. Those who are good in this lifetime have not always been so, and visa versa. Full comprehension of fate would require full comprehension of our entire timeline of reincarnation, which is beyond the boundary of human investigation. Thus although it is a simple principle, it is impossible to fully comprehend it.

The Pāṇḍavas are a very special example of how confusing fate can become, for not only were they extremely good and moral in this lifetime, we also have very little reason or evidence to believe that they were ever otherwise in any previous incarnation. Why then should calamities befall them? Bhīṣma answers by pointing at Kṛṣṇa and saying, “it is his inscrutable plan.”

Bhīṣma specifically refers to Kṛṣṇa as Arjuna’s beloved friend and protector. The implication here is profound: there is nothing truly ill in the incomprehensible plans of destiny, because the master of destiny is our beloved protector.

In actual fact, neither the Pāṇḍavas nor their mother Kuntī suffered at any time. Kuntī herself just finished telling Kṛṣṇa that she enjoyed every calamity they encountered and wishes they would never cease to befall them – because they place her into Kṛṣṇa’s company. Apparently ill things sometimes happen to truly saintly people, but they are unscathed and their experience only serves to instruct and uplift the world.

Bhīṣma concludes the topic by telling Yudhiṣṭhira, “You must stop trying to figure out why everything happened the way it did. Take your head out of the past and focus on the future. Now you are the head of our royal family and you have important obligations to the citizens that you must focus on.”

Bhīṣma now spontaneously turns his words to a new topic, most dear to his heart. Speaking indirectly to Kṛṣṇa who is listening besides Arjuna, he raises his hand towards the All-Attractive and says:

18

He is certainly, directly the All-Attractive Original Personality, Narayana. His charms intoxicate everyone as he moves confidentially among us Vrsni.

“Moving confidentially among us” means two things: (1) he is hidden from the perception of ordinary egoists, who see him as just another human being; (2) his activities with us are the most confidential and intimate side of his Godhead. These facets of confidentiality are accomplished by “intoxicating charms” (mohayan māyayā) which functions in two corresponding ways: (1) It allows egoistic souls to disconnect themselves from the All-Attractive; (2) It allows pure souls to connect themselves to the All-Attractive to a depth not warranted by their infinitesimal constitution.

It may be helpful to use distinguishing terminology for the two functions of Kṛṣṇa’s illusion: illusion which distances souls from him is called mahā-māyā. Illusion which deeply connects souls to him is called yoga-māyā. The use of the English term “illusion” is also problematic, so let us note that the illusions generated by the Supreme Reality are realities unto themselves.

19

O King, Śiva knows the most confidential secrets of his all-attractive nature, as does the gods’ sage Nārada, and godly Kapila.

These are three particularly noteworthy pure souls who are drawn closer to Kṛṣṇa by his intoxicating charms, and therefore know him very intimately.

20

You know him as your cousin, beloved friend, and supreme protector; who councils you, is your messenger, and out of kindness became your charioteer.

Yudhiṣṭhira and the Pāṇḍavas like Arjuna are even more exalted than Kapila, Nārada or Śiva. Their confidentiality with the All-Attractive is so great that it overshadows the officiousness and hierarchy inherent in the power of Godhead and endears the Original Person to become his beloved friend and servant.

Seen through the intoxication of illusion, however, it appears merely that Kṛṣṇa is a common mailman and chauffer for a prince, and nothing more. This is the veiw of intoxicated fools. It is not Bhīṣma’s view, as he explains:

21

He is certainly the soul of all, the neutral observer, the non-dual and the non-ego. His deeds are products of a consciousness never affected by attachment or aversion.

Bhīṣma states plainly that the person seated beside them, Kṛṣṇa, is directly and fully the Supreme Godhead. All of us are plagued by hunger in the core of our hearts. All of our actions are an attempt to fill this emotional hunger. The Supreme Being has no such hunger. Quite the opposite, the heart of the All-Attractive overflows with bliss. The actions of a common man attempt to fill a void within, the actions of the All-Attractive flow from an infinite fountainhead of bliss to fill the void without.

22

But King, see how sympathetic he is towards his single-minded devotee: as my life is ending Krsna has come directly before me!

The All-Attractive is impartial, but is not impersonal. If you direct affection towards him, he does not neglect it. In fact, because we are inherently infinitesimal and he is inherently infinite, his reciprocation for our affection is monumentally amplified in comparison to what we can offer.

23

Mind enrapt in divine love; Words glorifying his name; Giving up their body in this state, a yogi is released from all the reactions of selfishness.

Bhīṣma feels that Kṛṣṇa has given him a huge, undeserved favor. Kṛṣṇa has come personally before Bhīṣma as he is giving up his body. Thus it will be extremely easy for Bhīṣma to do what great yogis undergo extreme efforts to attain: to wrap their thoughts and words around him and thus be freed from the cycle of birth and death.

“Glorifying his name” is nāma-kīrtana. “Reactions of selfishness” is kāma-karmabhih.

24

The god of gods awaits,
While I leave this body.
The satisfied smile,
Sunrise eyes,
And lotus face
Of the Four-Armed
Pave the path of my concentration.


Going to the Deathbed of Grandfather Bhishma

1.9.1

Sūta said:

So, fearing the hatred of the citizens and wanting to understand the proper morality, he went to the field of destruction, where Godly Avowed lay.

The “Godly Avowed” (deva-vrata) is a name for Bhīṣma, the grandfather of the royal family. King Yudhiṣṭhira was not placated by the moral guidance of great sages like Vyāsa, nor by intimate friends like Kṛṣṇa. He needed to hear Bhīṣma’s guidance because (a) Bhīṣma was a great sage with practical experience and realization of royal and warrior life, and (b) most importantly, Bhīṣma was his dear grandfather whom he and his brothers killed during the war. Bhīṣma lay struck down upon the battlefield preserving his last remaining life-force.

2-3

He went with all his brothers and with learned sages like Vyāsa, in a row of golden chariots pulled by fine horses. Even the All-Attractive was there, with Dhanañjaya in his chariot. The King’s glory seemed like the god of wealth amidst his retinue.

Another way to express this is that the god of wealth himself strives to compare to the limitless wealth of King Yudhiṣṭhira, for whom the All-Attractive Object, Śrī Kṛṣṇa, gladly took the role of an ornament.

4

Seeing Bhīṣma lying there like an immortal fallen from the heavens, the Pāṇḍavas and their associates offered respects, as did the Disc Wielder.

The “Disc Wielder” (cakriṇā) is a name for Kṛṣṇa, who wields the discus-weapon of Viṣṇu. Sūta has clearly adopted a style which shies away from grouping Kṛṣṇa together with others in any list. This is a device intended to highlight Kṛṣṇa’s unique position as the All-Attractive Original Person.

5

The most learned sages had gathered there with the topmost sage of the gods, and philosopher-kings, to see the foremost Bharata.

Bhīṣma was the “foremost Bharata” (bharata-pungava) because he was the oldest living descendent of King Bharata, the great-grandfather of the Pāṇḍavas. The “topmost sage of the gods” is Nārada. Sūta will now elaborate a list of exalted persons who had gathered around Bhīṣma who lay on the battlefield at the threshold of death.

6-8

Parvata, Nārada, Daumya, and Godly Bādarāyaṇa; Bṛhadaśva, Bharadvaja and his disciples, and Reṇukā’s Son; Vasiṣṭha, Indraprama, Trita, Gṛtsamada, Asita, Kakṣīvan, Gautama, Atri, Kauśika and also Sudarśana. O brahmin, there were also scholars like spotless Brahmarāta. Accompanied by students arrived Kaśyapa, Angirasa, and others.

“Godly Bādarāyaṇa” is Vyāsa, who is an incarnation of Godhead and dwells in Bādarik Ashram. “Reṇukā’s Son” is another incarnation of Godhead, the warrior-killer, Paraśurāma. Sudarśana is the personified form of Viṣṇu’s discus weapon. Brahmarāta is a name for Śuka.

9

Gaining their company, the greatly blessed Topmost Vasu – fully aware of moral principles – respectfully received them in a manner appropriate to the unusual circumstance.

Sūta addresses Bhīṣma as the “Topmost Vasu” (vasūttama) because Bhīṣma is one of the eight gods called Vasu who were cursed to become human beings. Bhīṣma is the best Vasu because the river Ganges immediately claimed the lives of the other seven Vasus as soon as they were born. Only Bhīṣma survived to obtain a life which granted him direct audience and friendship with the All-Attractive Original Person, Śrī Kṛṣṇa.

10

Aware that the great controller of the universe was mystically sitting before him while simultaneously sitting within his heart, he welcomed Kṛṣṇa with special respect.

Bhīṣma, who Sūta just described as being “fully aware of moral principles” showed more respect to Kṛṣṇa than to any of the extremely illustrious “V.I.P. list” of Vedic sages.

11

Pāṇḍu’s children sat nearby, overwhelmed with emotion. As tears poured from his eyes Bhīṣma called them to come near.

Is Bhīṣma crying for the devastation endured by his grandchildren? Or is he crying out of joy that Kṛṣṇa has come before his eyes? Both; hot tears of pain are flowing alongside cold tears of joy. This illustrates the profound nature of spiritual bliss, in which mutually opposite emotions coexist and almost violently heighten one another beyond conventional experience.

trying to stop Goddess Ganga from drowning the...

His father, King Shantanu, saves newborn Bhisma from being drowned by the Ganges.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,056 other followers